Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Challenging Degrees

A graduate from Belfast has taken his former university to court over his 2:2 degree, claiming that if he had better supervision he would have got a 2:1 (reported here). It's hard to know what to say. Firstly, I agree with the defence lawyer that court probably isn't the right place to settle such disputes. More importantly, though, I don't really see that he has a case even if his claim is true.

Let's assume that with sufficiently better supervision he could have got a 2.i. The question is whether he has any right to that level of supervision. Presumably the level (quality and quantity) of supervision is one factor in determining the degree result, but many other factors play a role, in particular the student's own level of effort. Obviously I don't know the student in question, but for most students it's true that they could also have done better had they worked harder.

No student has a right to as much supervision as they can possibly benefit from. The question is whether they get a sufficient amount, both in absolute terms (what they paid for) and relative terms (i.e. in comparison to their peers). If he got as much supervision as others, but failed to make sufficient use of it, then surely some responsibility lies with him...

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